Ultra and Trail Unseen came to Koh Chang yesterday with an inaugural event held in the south east of the island. Organised by Go Adventure Asia, 1,000 people from all over Thailand took part in three races, 13km, 35km and 66km, with the start and finish at Salak Phet school.
With the 35km and 66km setting off at 06.00am and the 13km, 30m minutes later, the route took the racers, a mixture of serious runners and keen amateurs, down to the deserted Wai Chek Beach along the abandoned back road. The 13km group, by far the biggest, looped back from there to the finish at the school.
The 35km and 66km participants, meanwhile, headed off into the forest to emerge at Kheeri Phet waterfall. From there, the two races followed the road into the back of Salak Phet and then disappeared into the interior of the east coast of the island. The 66km group hit the main road back at Than Mayom waterfall, the 35km group a little further down and all continued onto the Salak Khok mangrove walkaway.
For those on the 35km race, respite was just 4km away as they could now turn back for home, but the already weary 66km group were far from finished. Their final leg passed along the side of the bay through Chek Bae and all the way out to the naval memorial at Hat Yuttanavy, which sits beyond Long Beach. In the full heat of the day, this was a merciless, unforgiving slog up and down the hills of the old road, with the same route back in reverse and when Salak Phet school finally came back into view, most of the participants had been running and walking for 10 to 12 hours or more.
The 13km race men’s race was won by Thai Boonmee Aomsin in a time of 1:05:21, the women’s race by Tharanun Jaikla, 1:22:02. The 35km men’s race was won by American Bryan Joseph Marotta in 3:15:12, the next home, Brit Anthony Arrowsmith, coming in a full hour later. The women’s 35km was won by Mesikarn Jongthamrongjarukit in 4:51:06. The 66km race was taken in a phenomenal time of 6:06:14 by Thai Sanya Khanchai, second by American Randy Travis at 07:33:56. The women’s race by American April Nelson in 08:50:28. For most runners though, just taking part and finishing was the major achievement, but it might not have felt like that last night, as some very sore feet dragged their weary owners back home.
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